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Anatomy Of An Injury - Tight Ends

This pre-season series will provide you with in-depth analysis of key injuries and their resultant implications on fantasy football. This information comes straight from my perspective as a Physical Therapist and collegiate Athletic Trainer of ten years. Over that time, I have seen and treated almost every injury that can occur in this violent sport. Hopefully this piece gives you a little more insight into the anatomy of an injury.

Player: Antonio Gates
Injury: Plantar fascitis
Healing Time: 3–6 weeks
Impact on the field: Gates makes the preseason list again this year; but this time it’s not nearly as serious. And as dictated by his performance last year, this type of injury does not slow him down. This offseason he developed plantar fascitis on his opposite foot because of over-training. Gates is susceptible to foot problems because he has some level of “flat feet” or overpronation that leads to tendonitis in his plantar fascia. He was checked out by a renowned foot specialist and was instructed to rest. This injury is essentially nothing to worry about in mid-June. If it were November, then we would be having a different conversation. For now, draft Gates with the belief that you will get the most consistent TE in the business.

Player: Kellen Winslow
Injury: Knee scope
Healing Time: 2–6 weeks
Impact on the field: Another off-season, another injury for Winslow. Just another day in the life of a guy who is perpetually injured. I wrote last week that some knee injuries are not a big deal (such as Donald Driver’s), but others are considerably more serious. Winslow has had multiple knee surgeries to fix cartilage; and every time they go in, they take some more out. Winslow will need a knee replacement very early in life because his knee has very little cartilage left. But Winslow knows how to get open and I am sure he is used to dealing with pain in his knee every day. It has not affected his play thus far and I doubt it will start to this year.

Owen Daniels

Silver lining? Daniels is no stranger to ACL injuries.

Player: Owen Daniels
Injury: ACL reconstruction
Healing Time: 6–8 months
Impact on the field: If there’s a silver lining in Daniels’ case, it’s that he’s been through this before. Daniels’ multiple ACL reconstructions may have been due to laxity in his ligaments or poor lower extremity alignment. Either way, there is no way to fix that. All one does is rehab the injury. This injury occurred in the middle of last season and he has since resumed running and all football activities. I am sure they will take it easy on him in OTAs and training camp. Daniels was highly productive last year and was performing like a top-3 TE. The Texans offense can be a juggernaut, so look for Daniels to put up very solid numbers again this year.

Player: Jermichael Finley
Injury: Patellar tendonitis
Healing Time: 6 weeks
Impact on the field: This is something to keep an eye on. The Finley hype machine is in full-drive. Everyone is talking about him and he no longer qualifies as a sleeper. He is now being ranked consistently in the top 5 TEs, though he does not yet have the track record to justify that. His knee has been bothering him since the end of last season, and I’m concerned that it could bother him periodically throughout the year. These things have a tendency to linger. Personally, I think Finley is in a good spot and could produce big numbers, but he is tremendously over-hyped considering that he has had only one half of a good year so far. Besides, the TE position is very deep and one could wait to draft a reliable starter this year .

Player: Jeremy Shockey
Injury: Seizures
Healing Time: Day-to-day
Impact on the field: Even for a guy who has been injury-prone throughout his career, this one takes the cake. Seizures occur because of an abnormal influx of brain waves and can range from minor to very serious. It appears that this was a one time thing and will not have any lasting impact. Shockey’s value has gone up and down since his trade to New Orleans. He is somewhere around TE 10 material and really does not provide any difference-making capability at this stage of his career.

Player: Chris Cooley
Injury: Broken ankle
Healing Time: 12–16 weeks
Impact on the field: Cooley may have been “Wally Pipped” by Fred Davis. Davis played so well down the stretch last season that there may no longer be a need for Cooley. With Donovan McNabb in town and Mike Shanahan calling plays, the tight end position will be utilized heavily. But if Cooley and Davis end up splitting time, neither one would be useful. Note to all reading: Guys who break their ankle and have resultant surgery are not the same the next year.

Player: Brandon Pettigrew
Injury: Torn ACL
Healing Time: 6 months
Impact on the field: By now, I doubt I need to explain the ACL injury and its surgery. No matter how you cut it, plan on Pettigrew losing six months to rehab. The Lions have made nice strides with their offensive skill position players, but I doubt they have enough touches to spread around to all of those players. Stay away in redraft leagues.